With respect to recovery time, the five-week spacing between the Florida and Kentucky Derbies helps with the latter. And the quality of the field for tomorrow’s 56th running of a Grade 1 event that has produced 20 Kentucky Derby and 31 winners of the Triple Crown’s remaining legs, is the deepest of the year.
It has attracted a field of nine with four very strong contenders: Scat Daddy (5-2), Stormello (3-1), Notional (4-1) and Adore The Gold (6-1). It also marks the stakes debut of an interesting prospect named Chelokee, trained by Michael Matz, who won last year’s event with Barbaro.
Scat Daddy, Stormello and Adore The Gold were separated by a length in the G2 Fountain of Youth. Notional won the G3 San Rafael and G2 Risen Star in his only starts at 3. You could flip a coin and not take the worst of it with any of these fine sophomores.
Scat Daddy is a worthy early line favorite, a winner of three graded stakes including the G1 Champagne at 2. He is very likely to get the strong pace needed to boost his late kick. Edgar Prado replaces John Velazquez, in Dubai with Todd Pletcher for the World Cup program.
Stormello withstood long, sustained challenges in the Fountain of Youth and was beaten an inch. He subsequently worked five furlongs in :58 1/5 at his Hollywood Park base, the fastest of 128 3-year-olds to work the same distance that week, but now must make a second 3,000-mile journey within a month. It might be a bit much to ask.
Notional is interesting because he has done nothing wrong this year, hails from the powerful Doug O’Neill shed, and his six-furlong stamina move in 1:12 2/5 was third fastest of 69 that week, stat courtesy of Bloodstock Research. He has tactical speed enough to get the jump on Scat Daddy and the kick to stay there.
Adore The Gold is interesting because he will be the longest price of the big four, chased the Fountain of Youth pace from an extremely disadvantageous wide post, and not only did he live to tell about it but came back with five-eighths in :57 3/5! And no one’s ever confused Michael Gorham with Bob Baffert. While not the “best horse,” he could trip out in this field from an improved post and provide excellent value. I would need at least 6-1 for a win bet.
Chelokee is not as fast nor as accomplished as his competition. But he’s very promising and if you have the capability of race replay, either at the local track or on-line, check out his last race on March 3. It was unbelievable!
I have no idea which I’m keying in the Florida Derby. The best horse isn’t always the best bet. Successful wagering in the long term is a function of price, not horse. Suffice that I’m looking at Scat Daddy, Notional and Adore The Gold on the top of my ticket. With gun to head, I like Notional.
Using Equiform’s proprietary odds program and based on my speed figure projections for this important Derby prep; the absolute minimum win odds required on our four top contenders and longshot are Scat Daddy (2.90-1), Notional (4.50-1), Adore The Gold (4.50-1) and Stormello (5.70-1). Generally, I want one or two price levels above projected win odds. In the case of Chelokee (9.10-1), I’d need at least 12-1 before considering a win play.